The Astha Lakshmi temple is located near the beach of the Besant Nagar area in Chennai, Tamilnadu, on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. The temple was built in 1974 by the devotees under the able leadership of an erudite scholar named Mukkur Srinivasa Vardacahriyar, and as per the wishes of Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati of the Kanchi Mutt. The temple was consecrated in 1976.
Influence on religion and culture
The temple is visited by hundreds of devotees every year. The goddess resides in her eight different forms in the Ashtalakshmi Temple Chennai which attract devotees to come and worship her in eight forms. The devotees believe that the Goddess can bless them with the eight different forms of wealth or the eight different forms of achievements when they come here to worship her. The eight forms are Adhilakshmi, Dhanyalakshmi, Dahiryalakshmi, Gajalakshmi, Vidyalakshmi, Vijayalakshmi, Santhanalakhmi and Dhanalakshmi. The eight types of wealth which are related to these forms are courage, wealth, food, prosperity, success, knowledge, offspring and bravery. The people pray to Mahalakshmi and Mahavishnu so that they are blessed with the capability to achieve all eight wealth.
The presiding deity
The presiding deities of the temple are Mahalakshmi with Mahavishnu whose shrines are situated on the second floor of the temple. Though the temple is dedicated to Mahalakshmi exclusively, Lord Mahavishnu also gets a pride of place in the temple, as he is her consort. The eight forms of Mahalakshmi are spread over the three other floors. Worship has to start with the main shrine and then carried out before the other eight shrines of Mahalakshmi depicting the eight different forms.
Details of idols
There are nine different shrines in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple dedicated to Mahalakshmi. They are built in tiers in such a way that all the eight forms are visible from any single spot. There are four levels or floors and separate sanctums numbering nine. The shrine of Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu is on the second level. The shrines of Adhilakshmi, Dhanyalakshmi and Dharyalakshmi, are located on the first level or floor. The shrines of Santhanalakshmi, Vidyalakshmi, Gajalakshmi and Vijayalakshmi are located on the third floor while the shrine of Dhanalakshmi is located on the fourth floor.
Other shrines in complex
Other than the main shrine, there are other shrines located within the temple complex. The shrine dedicated to the Dhasavathara Sannadhi or the ten forms of Lord Vishnu is located inside the complex. The shrine dedicated to Guruvayurappan is on the south-east side of the complex while on the south-west side stands the shrine dedicated to Kamala Vinayagar Sannadhi. The shrine dedicated to Chakkaratalvar and Yoga Narashimhar Sannadhi is on the west side of the complex and the shrine dedicated to Anjaneyar Sannadhi is on the north-west side. The shrine dedicated to Dhanvantari is situated in the north-west corner of the temple. Inside the temple facing the Main deity is the shrine dedicated to Garudalvar Sannadhi.
Nature of worship
The worship starts with the shrine of the two presiding deities namely Mahalakshmi and Mahavishnu, which is located on the second floor. After the prayers are offered here, a flight of steps take you to the third floor where the shrine of Santhanalakshmi (bestower of children) is located. The shrines of Vidyalakshmi (goddess of wisdom and knowledge), Vijayalakshmi (god of success) and Gajalakshmi (goddess of prosperity) are also here. After completing worship here, you have to take another flight of stairs to go the fourth floor where the shrine of DhanaLakshmi (goddess of wealth) is located. While exiting the temple, you have to pray before the shrines of Adhilakshmi, DhaanyaLakshmi (goddess of food) and Dhariyalakshmi (goddess of courage and strength).
Special events and festivals
The main festivals that are held at this temple are Navaratri, Pavitra Ursavam, Dhanur masaPooja, Gokulastami, Deepavali, Kartigai and Pongal. The Navaratri celebrations go on for ten days when processions are taken out. The Pavitra Ursavam is performed for five days every year when the deities are adorned with garlands and water is poured on the deities from the holy kalasams or pots that were worshipped earlier. It signifies the cleaning of the soul. For the sacred Dhansur Masa Puja performed during Markazhi month, the temple is opened at 5.00 a.m. The Gokulastami or the Sri Krishna Jayanthi is celebrated here with pomp and glory. Electric lights are put up during the Deepavali festival while lamps burning ghee are lighted during the Kartigai festival. Pongal which is the first day in the Tamil calendar, is also celebrated at this temple, with people visiting the temple on the next day to get the blessings of Mahalakshmi and Mahavishnu.
Pilgrimage and tourism
Thousands of pilgrims and devotees from various parts of the country flock to this temple during the different festivals that are held here. Tourists from different parts of the country as well as from foreign lands come to the temple to pay their respects and to look at the architecture of the temple.
Puja timings of temple
A darshan of the goddess can be done as per the Ashtalakshmi Temple timings when it is open from 6.30 a.m. to 12.00 noon. The doors of the temple are also opened at 4.00 p.m,. and remain open till 9.00 p.m. The temple remains open up to 1.00 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The Suprabadham puja starts at 6.30 a.m., and the Visvaroopa Darshan puja starts at 7.00 a.m. The Kaalasandhi puja is done at 8.00 a.m. while the Uchikalam puja is done at 12.00 noon after which the temple is closed. The Syaratche puja takes place at 6.00 p.m. while the Iravu puja is done at 7.30 p.m. The temple closes after the Arthajama puja that is performed at 9.00 p.m.